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February 21, 2018

“Pioneers” Preview Event Celebrates Lawyer & Financier Reginald F. Lewis

Last Thursday, more than 300 community members, business leaders, and family friends gathered for a special preview of Pioneers: Reginald F. Lewis and the Making of a Billion Dollar Empire. The film chronicles the life and legacy of business pioneer, philanthropist and titan Reginald F. Lewis.

A Harvard Law School graduate, Lewis rose to prominence as a lawyer, financier, and leader of the global food company TLC Beatrice International. Lewis was the first African American ever to close an overseas billion dollar leveraged buyout deal. He acquired an unprecedented global conglomerate of 64 companies in 31 countries, and paved the way for future entrepreneurs and black leaders through his life’s work until his untimely death at age 50.

WNET President & CEO Neal Shapiro welcomed the guests, and executive producer Geraldine Moriba spoke about her experiences making the film and introduced an excerpt.

Following the excerpt, Nina Pineda from WABC-TV moderated two panel discussions. Business leaders Raymond J. McGuire, Global Head of Corporate & Investment Banking at Citigroup, Inc. and Robert F. Smith, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, discussed the impact of the deal and Reginald F. Lewis’ legacy. Executives involved in the making of the TLC Beatrice deal – Cleveland A. Christophe, Dean C. Kehler, and Peter Offermann – shared their insights with audiences about the history-making deal.

Pioneers: Reginald F. Lewis and the Making of a Billion Dollar Empire premiered on Friday, February 16 on WLIW21 and Sunday, February 18 on THIRTEEN. In case you missed the program, you can watch it this coming Saturday, February 24 at 7pm on NJTV. The documentary is available to stream nationwide on wliw.org/pioneers and thirteen.org/pioneers. Join the conversation online with #BillionDollarEmpire.


From L-R. First row: Christina Halpern Lewis, Loida Nicolas Lewis, Carolyn Fugett (mother of Reginald F. Lewis), Cleveland A. Christophe, Nina Pineda; Back row: Robert F. Smith, Neal Shapiro, Dean C. Kehler, Leslie Malaika Lewis, Peter Offermann, and Raymond J. McGuire. Credit: Joseph Sinnott.

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